S.Korea to send N.Korea aid amid tensions

S.Korea to send N.Korea aid amid tensions

But Seoul said that it will later decide on the timing of an actual provision, apparently mindful of divided public opinion about assisting North Korea amid its provocations.

The decision is a break with the hardline policy on aid pursued by Seoul since the start of past year.

South Korea's unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon said that aid should be "separated from political consideration", even as more and more countries respond to calls led by the United States that only strong pressure can force Pyongyang to abandon its military provocations and nuclear weapons program.

The aid will go toward the WFP's nutritional programs for children and expectant mothers as well as UNICEF's vaccinations, essential medicine and treatments targeting children and pregnant women. Japan's government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said it could undermine worldwide efforts to put pressure on North Korea.

Eight million dollars are to be given to support United Nations programmes aimed at children, pregnant women and improving medical supplies. Among them, 1.3 million, including children and pregnant women, are in acute need of help.

It is the first humanitarian assistance by Seoul under the Moon Jae-in administration, which took office in May.

Meanwhile, Karin Hulshof, regional director for East Asia and the Pacific at UNICEF released a statement on Thursday stressing the urgency of resolving the hunger issues and other "real challenges" North Korean children face daily.

South Korea offered humanitarian assistance to the North even under conservative administrations.

Cho also noted the severity of the current situation surrounding the Korean peninsula on North Korea's ongoing provocations and the efforts of global leaders being displayed at the UN General Assembly in NY.

This image captured from footage provided by the World Food Program on September 13, 2011, shows a North Korean child suffering from malnutrition.

South Korea suspended humanitarian aid to North Korea after the country conducted its fourth nuclear test in January 2016.

The Lee Myung-bak and the Park government did not send humanitarian aid through worldwide organizations in 2010 and 2016, but did provide funding, via global organizations and third parties, between 2011 and 2015 - with funding peaking in 2014 at KRW14.1 billion (USD$12,445,788).